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Food and Beverage

Bored on Your Lunchbreak? Chipotle Prints Literary Works on Bags and Cups to ‘Cultivate Thought’

chipotle-cups-hr-hed-2014Remember, as a kid, sitting at the kitchen table and reading the back of the cereal box over and over again? We don’t know about you, but once we had figured out the puzzles and read the stories, if there was still milk in the bowl, we’d move on to reading the ingredients — we needed to keep our eyes and brains busy while mindlessly munching on Cheerios.

Now, Chipotle is betting that we haven’t outgrown the impulse to scan for something to read while eating alone; next time you find yourself eating a burrito bowl solo, there will be no need to reach into your pocket for your phone or dig through your bag for your Kindle — works by literary giants will now appear conveniently on the bags and cups containing your culinary delights. Read more

Documents Show That Coca-Cola Supported Both MADD & A Group Opposed To Stricter Drunk Driving Laws

coke lightboxThe Huffington Post has gotten its hands on documents that show while Coca-Cola was supporting Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) it was also a member of the American Beverage Institute (ABI). The ABI, in trying to live up to its stated mission of “the protection of responsible on-premise consumption of adult beverages” has supported measures that would lower the legal blood-alcohol limits and fought against measures that would raise taxes on alcohol and institute sobriety checkpoints. An op-ed highlighted on the About Us page right now is from the October 24, 2013 issue of the Las Vegas Review-Journal called “Lower blood-alcohol limits won’t curb drunk driving deaths.”

When questioned about the support, Coke spokesperson Kirsten Witt told HuffPo, “On behalf of our customers, Coca-Cola has provided support to ABI over the years. We are not engaged in ABI advocacy efforts.” According to the HuffPo story, the annual membership dues at ABI are in “… between $2,500 a year (for companies with under $1 billion in sales that attend no meetings) to $45,000 a year (for those with $2 billion in sales that attend the three ABI meetings a year)” for non-alcohol companies. Dues vary for restaurants, retailers, companies that sell non-alcoholic beverages and businesses that sell alcohol.

MADD’s chief government affairs officer J.T. Griffin said of the situation, “It is a little shocking. I guess it is unfortunate. But it certainly is their right.”

Griffin is right. It’s totally Coke’s right to support both. But with customers looking for authenticity, it calls the company’s brand into question.

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Fast Food Restaurants Should Be Preparing for the Global Workers Strike Planned for Thursday

mcds tweetWorkers from dozens of countries around the world are preparing for a mass strike on Thursday, May 15 to protest for higher wages and better working conditions. The date, chosen because it reflects the $15 per hour that workers are fighting for here in the US, will mark the day when the months-long fight publicly goes global (meetings took place last week). Across six continents, workers from Burger King, McDonald’s, KFC and other chains will take to the streets. European protestors are taking action in solidarity with US workers.

McDonald’s spoke with USA Today, saying 80 percent of its restaurants are owned by small businessmen.

“This is an important discussion that needs to take into account the highly competitive nature of the industries that employ minimum wage workers, as well as consumers and the thousands of small businesses which own and operate the vast majority of McDonald’s restaurants,” said McD’s spokesperson Heidi Barker Sa Shekhem.

The statement notably deflects attention away from the fact that McDonald’s revenue for the first quarter was more than $6 billion.

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Kellogg Agrees: ‘All-Natural’ Means Absolutely Nothing

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Earlier this week, The New York Times columnist/nutritionist/penultimate “foodie” Mark Bittman wrote an op-ed about our consumer culture’s over-emphasis on the word “organic.”

His point? Eating better and living healthier lives has very little to do with whether the products one buys are technically organic–even though there’s a clear and important distinction between agricultural practices that qualify and those that don’t. Non-organic lettuce, for example, is far healthier than organic crackers–and the fact that Ben & Jerry’s products hew to certain production standards does not in any way mean that they’re healthy.

When it comes to marketing practices, of course, it’s a different story–and Kellogg is only the latest company to agree (under court order) that the phrase “all-natural” as it exists in the market today is completely meaningless.

Remember Naked Juice?

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POM Responds to John Oliver’s Not-So-Gentle Ribbing

In case your viewing schedule is getting the best of you, John Oliver of “The Daily Show” has a new weekly news program on the Home Box Office channel called “Last Week Tonight”, and April’s debut episode did indeed serve to assuage our doubts over whether Mr. Oliver could carry such a program on his own.

One of the first subjects of his very British ire was POM Wonderful, which he pummeled during a segment on consumer brands and their dubious health claims (something we understand all too well).

Rather than take it lying down, the people at POM decided to respond with a letter we’ll let Oliver review:

They even let their fans know afterward, lest anyone call them humorless…or worse.

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Coke Lays Off the ‘Brominated Vegetable Oil’ Sauce

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Note the brownish consistency…

Ever tried to set your soda on fire and notice that it just wouldn’t light up?

Yesterday brought yet another case of a big brand responding to social media peer pressure.

In a story that’s oddly similar to the ongoing GMO “debate”, the Coca-Cola Company announced yesterday that it would stop using “brominated vegetable oil”, which happens to contain a flame-retardant chemical called bromine, in some of its beverages.

Here’s a nice description of bromine’s effects via the CDC:

“Bromine works by directly irritating the skin, mucous membranes, and tissues.”

Sounds pleasant. We can’t imagine why anyone wouldn’t want to drink it.

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Fireball Whisky Is Outselling Other Well-Known Liquor Brands Thanks To College Towns & Free Samples

fireball whiskyFireball Whisky is, of course, sold in liquor stores and bars around the country. But it’s also sold at gas stations and convenience stores. And apparently, that ubiquity has made it a sales winner, particularly in college towns where drinking games are popular. After all, if you’re losing, what better way to hammer the message home than to have a shot of hot alcohol leave a burning trail down your throat.

Sales of Fireball in 2011 were $1.9 million. In 2013, they were up to $61 million, not including bars. That’s more than Jameson and Patron Tequila.

The reason for the spike can be boiled down to three reasons: marketers made the whisky’s presence known in college towns, offering free shots at bars; celebs like Josh Harris from the Discovery Channel’s Deadliest Catch have posted about it on social media; and brand ambassadors go bananas posting drinking games and parties online. Besides Twitter and Facebook, these brand ambassadors are also using blogs, Foursquare and Instagram to let customers know where they’re going to be and many people are likely following to get a freebie.

But there’s still one gladiator to defeat in this spirited battle of spirits that pack a punch: Jägermeister.

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Taco Bell Will Be Testing New Restaurants That Serve Milkshakes Spiked With Guinness

us taco coFirst they went after McD’s with an ad filled with Ronald McDonalds. Now they’re going after Chipotle.

Taco Bell is testing out a “fast-casual” restaurant called US Taco Co. that’s meant to compete with Panera and Chipotle. (That’s the logo at right, BTW.)

According to USA Today, the target audience for this restaurant are millennials with cash to spend on more than just 99 cent tacos.

To do that, diners will have options that are more in the $10 range with ingredients like lobster and Texas brisket. They’re starting with two locations this summer — one in Huntington Beach and the other in a TBD Southern California location where they will be able to serve alcohol. That second location will have what’s being called a “Mexican Car Bomb“: a vanilla shake with Guinness beer, tequila caramel sauce and chocolate bits.

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Midlife Crisis? Ronald McDonald Gets Makeover and Joins Twitter

la-fi-mo-ronald-mcdonald-makeover-20140423It seems the 51-year-old Ronald McDonald is having a midlife crisis. He’s getting a makeover and a new wardrobe, and has decided to become tech savvy — all at once.

With all the “McFail” we’ve been covering lately, maybe McDonald’s decided it was time to draw the attention away from the negative news stories, and instead re-focus it on its brand’s beloved mascot. Or maybe the company wanted to reclaim its own spokesman after Taco Bell hijacked the Ronald McDonald name in its most recent breakfast campaign.

Either way, the changes are coming, and the fast food chain is hoping social media interaction and increased sales will come along with them.

The clown-like Ronald McDonald that the public has been familiar with since his debut in the 60′s wears giant red shoes, a yellow jumpsuit over a red-and-white striped shirt, and a flaming red wig. While the new incarnation will keep his clown makeup, wig, and comical shoes, the rest of his outfit can best be described as beach comber meets dress-down Friday meets The Warblers from “Glee”.

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General Mills Completes Its Reversal on Arbitration Terms

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In the final chapter of a brief three-part exercise in damage control, General Mills has completed its 180-degree reversal on a failed plan to prevent future class action lawsuits by forcing consumers to resolve complaints via private arbitration.

After refusing to comment on a New York Times story that speculated as to whether the new terms would have forbidden all fans and followers from filing suit, the company attempted to clarify before dumping the effort entirely.

Over the weekend, GM’s director of external communications issued a statement in the form of a blog post which nicely demonstrates the difficulty of turning legal terms colloquial.

Key quotes and our translations after the jump.

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